These adorable little tomatoes started life on a sunny South-facing windowsill in North Boulder. A friend of mine could not wait for Spring or Summer to arrive, so she started without them. She sowed tomato, pepper and flower seeds in tiny handmade newspaper pots, recycled pots and even a few hollowed out spaghetti squash shells. She lovingly potted them up to larger containers as they grew but, eventually, as Spring came on, the sun's position changed to moved away from the window and the plants started reaching for the light and getting a little leggy and needed to find more sun. My friend gave me two of the tall tomato plants but we did not know what kind they were since they came from a seed packet marked "Cherry Tomato Varieties ". One plant seems to be a "Sweet 100" Or is it Sweet Million "....? It has tons of teeny tiny, bright red , super sweet tomatoes....not great for drying...best for snacking raw.
The other plant has been producing lots of the guys you see here...nice deep dark red with lots of flavor. They are a smallish oval-shaped tomato with lots of rich tomato flavor. They are a little bit seedy for drying, but I don't mind. You could scoop out the major seed clumps if you wanted to, before drying. The best tomatoes for drying are the ones developed for sauces...the "plum" tomatoes ( San Marzanos, Romas....) since they have fairly dense meaty interiors, without a lot of seedy gel and goo. Below is a process I've used to oven-dry tomatoes for keeping. I store them in the fridge afterwards, but many claim that is not necessary. Mine were not as dry as they might have been if I had done some seed-scooping. You don't want crispy, you want leathery. But too wet and they would be prone to molding without the refrigeration I would think. So mine go into a jar and into the fridge. If you own a dehydrator...use that, following the maker's instructions.
Oven-dried Smallish Tomatoes:
Preheat oven from 160 degrees to 200, depending on how big and how many pans of tomatoes you are drying. Your oven may get warm enough with just the pilot on, if it's gas, or by turning on and leaving on the oven light or lights. If you have a convection oven, make sure to make use of the fan...check your oven manual for details...it may even have a "dehydrate" setting. Use an oven thermometer to check if you want, but really what you are going for is enough heat to get evaporation going but not so much that they cook...unless you want to roast them, but that's another post :)
Prepare a large flat baking sheet with a tiny bit of oil or cover the pan with a piece of parchment paper, or set a wire rack ( oven-safe ! ) over a baking sheet ( to catch possible drippings ).
Wash and de-stem your tomatoes.
Cut them in half ( lengthwise if they are oval or pear-shaped ).
Scoop out excess seeds and goo , if you care.
Lay them on their backs ( Skin side to the pan, parchment paper or rack ).
Dehydrate for 6-12 hours. Keep an eye on them...do not let them get super dry...you want to maintain a little bit of leathery-ness.
Cool completely and store in airtight containers either in the fridge or your pantry.
Use your dehydrated tomatoes in this awesome Vegan Pizza Dip recipe from Save the Kales. I made it a few weeks back, serving it with crunchy pita chips and EVERYBODY loved it...vegans and non-vegans alike !
And thank you, Kristen, for sharing your green thumb :)
Greetings from Boulder, CO ! I'll be blogging about our new life here on the Front Range where the Plains meet the Rockies in awesome geologic confluence :)
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